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Airport workers threaten strike during Berlin travel trade fair
March 3, 2017 / 12:57 PM / 7 months ago

Airport workers threaten strike during Berlin travel trade fair

FRANKFURT, March 3 (Reuters) - Travel industry players heading to the world’s biggest tourism trade fair in Berlin next week could face flight disruptions after ground staff at the city’s two airports voted in favour of strikes in a pay dispute.

Labour union Verdi said on Friday that 98.6 percent of balloted workers at Schoenefeld and Tegel airports were in favour of industrial action.

Verdi wants an increase in pay for ground staff to 12 euros an hour from about 11 euros as part of a one-year collective agreement. Workers have walked out several times in recent weeks, forcing the cancellation of more than 300 flights.

The union has described as insufficient management’s offer of a four-year deal with annual pay rises of 1 percent, about 10 cents an hour.

The employers, a group of airport ground services providers, said in a statement that their goal remains to find a solution at the negotiating table. Verdi says the employers have until Tuesday to improve their offer.

The ITB fair in Berlin, which starts on Wednesday, attracted 120,000 trade visitors last year and will draw airline and tour operator executives as well as ministers from countries including Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey. The fair runs to March 12.

Berlin’s airports are served by carriers including Air Berlin, Lufthansa, easyJet and Ryanair, among others.

Verdi is also negotiating pay for workers at other airports in Germany, including Stuttgart, Frankfurt and Cologne.

In Stuttgart it had called for a walkout by ground staff from 3.30am local time (0230 GMT) on Friday. Employers’ group SGS said there were no strike-related flight cancellations by midday, though some passengers faced delays at check-in counters.

Ground staff jobs include the checking in of passengers, loading and unloading planes and directing aircraft on the tarmac. (Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by David Goodman)

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